The appeal of the seizure of 180+ rabbits (see earlier posts 1, 2) resulted in the overturn of part of the initial confiscation. 117 rabbits were returned to the breeder, and he must pare to no more than 50 rabbits (per various reports online), which will mean distributing the remaining rabbits to other places (other breeders, pet trade, meat, etc). I believe 41 ill rabbits remain at the shelter and will be available for adoption after healing and alteration.
This has been a difficult situation all around. My involvement has been as a helper in caring for the animals on a couple of Saturdays. I don’t know any details of the reversal of the confiscation other than that part of the seizure was deemed illegal. As someone who spends a lot of time dealing with rules and regulations, I don’t fault their existence or even the spirit of the seizure, at least based on the public information made available in news stories about the rabbits’ condition. I do find it interesting (and not exactly surprising) that people don’t always bother to, or perhaps know how to, follow the regulations already in place so that the spirit of the act can be legal.
I’ve been following some interesting discussions online in the breeding community related to this case, some of which decry anyone involved with shelters as animal rights activists with an agenda to end the right to breed or use animals. There are some people like that, and I’m not here to judge such an agenda. But the vast majority of people who work in shelters and volunteer in rescue are average middle class folks with just enough extra time to try to help homeless animals. They typically spend no time testifying at hearings, spearheading legislation, breaking into breeder barns and shows to liberate animals, or even talking about what breeders are doing. There simply isn’t time to worry about that part of the equation and too much to do to prevent the euthanasia of unwanted animals in shelters.
I’m very glad that many of the rabbits will have a chance at indoor, forever homes as companion pets. That’s because I’ve seen what a wonderful companion a rabbit can be and how they enjoy racing around the house; I know they aren’t happy cooped up in cages in outdoor buildings. I also know that the average impulse buy of a rabbit in a pet store is a poorly made decision and that rabbits are NOT the right pets for most people–or at least for any people who think their kids will be able to cuddle the bunny and keep it quietly in a cage the rest of the time. I won’t dwell on the fate of the other rabbits in the Watseka case because it’s out of my hands and is not productive. Guess what–in the last week we rescued five rabbits and found homes for five others, and that’s a much better focus.